This is going to be a very hard post to type. Somewhere between here and my previous sample I have made an exponential leap in purpose and context. I cannot work out how to reasonably summarise what has happened?!
I suspect the most effective way would be to create a visual timeline.
When I started my textiles course with OCA, my introductory assignment feedback pinpointed an emerging use of text in my work and my tutor encouraged me with: ‘it may be worth delving deeper into the combination of text in your work. This is a significant element for this submission and I would like to see it develop.’
When I struggled with collage in a later submission it was my own handwriting that I resorted to create my monochromatic paper in a somewhat subversive tone. My tutor’s feedback commented:’The collage takes off when you move into the stitched work. As mentioned earlier the colour is not so personal in the initial collage work – don’t be afraidto paint over and change the colour of your found materials. The black and white ‘doing my head in’ piece is the strongest because the composition is not interrupted by the recognition of stuck down paper – it takes on an unfamiliar texture and the writing relates to, and enhances, the stitch.’
There’s the first ghost of a whisper: ‘it takes on an unfamiliar texture’
The writing effects the paper and the stitch and is in turn effected by these, but now we’re talking WRITING not ‘text’.
Then creating yarns inspired by collage I wondered how you could make a secret capsule yarn, that would keep a written secret safe and hidden within a central core. this developed out of my idea of an interactive yarn which you could move to respond ‘yes/no’ in a window. The hidden core yarn emerged, safeguarding a handwritten message within its very heart. This time my feedback recognises:‘Here you really begin to compose with your techniques. The drawing and the making merge. Your use of text also brings meaning and concept more clearly into focus. These pieces almost make the stitch look like handwriting –as if looking at a foreign language… A very strong collection of samples.’ Now the ghost of a whisper is a clear call: ‘text brings meaning and concept…stitch look like handwriting – as if looking at a foreign language’ Now text and writing are attached to meaning communication beyond the graphical – there’s a barrier between comprehension – here emerging as something awaiting translation.
In the first part of MMT, my tutor noted in her feedback:‘ The printed pages once folded, conjured up, a sense, that the text had been reduced into a code.’ Here, in an apparently unconnected exercsie the text and writing theme emerges again. In part 2 it has eveolved further with the emerging interest of the boundary between things concelaed/revealed. With the support of my tutor I was able to navigate a trickly brick wall with wrapping and came through to develop work that invites a response from the audience, as tutor feedback for this part explains: ‘this opens the narrative of the hurtful words perhaps being transformed or transported.’ Now transformation enters the picture, noting further that with one specimen I can ‘reveal or conceal as much information as desired – the position of the viewer is in your hands’ – communication and meaning now become integrated with composition and expression.
This all sifted back down into my subconscious until this project and it has emerged with quite a punch. Combining ideas of expressive line emerging in my drawing, aiming for something beyond abstract expressionism, bringing that internal vocabulary, that internal language to life and the current project of casting the inner surface of a vessel I have stumbled upon something very exciting and inspiring. Something I really want to investigate and importantly now I know why!
In order to push the boundaries of a creative field or domain the rules/skills of that particular domain or field have to be fully known and integrated in order to be subsumed and innovated upon. The only thing I feel fully competent in is handwriting. My personal handwriting developed when I was 14. I finished an exam with an hour to spare and knowing there was nothing to do, nothing to correct and I wouldn’t be allowed to leave the exam hall with anything I decided to use the extra paper you could have to redesign my handwriting. I may not have been able to leave with anything physical, but I left with my own script designed by me, breaking various rules of what you should and shouldn’t do whilst maintaining the requirements of legibility and fluidity. I think it was my first ‘really me’ expression in paper. It has nothing to do with calligraphy or cursive script rules or copperplate, it just made me feel good to write it and look back at it. It did take a few years to settle into a mature style, but that was the beginning.
I loved writing. I love words. I wrote poetry. Very self-conscious and teen-angst driven until I discovered the word, of etymology and then words themselves became whole narratives – lives captured in a sound, I was hooked as to how words acquire their meaning, how this meaning can be corrupted and destroyed or made fixed and sacred. Later the world of semiotics opened for me with a unit of learning on linguistics. But rather than pursue something wich actually awakened my curiosity, something new and invigorating I left it alone and pursued the study of poetry: from the first poetry in Old English, through the works of Middle English poets up to the Surrealists. Words were pouring into me and pouring out of me. Words that transformed in front of my eyes, words that became shape and form: not just sound and voice. Words became free of the page. I believe one of the things that stopped me going completely crazy and losing all hope during the dark days was the amount of poetry I knew off-by-heart in my head. I could tap into the mystical, the spiritual, the profane, the humourous without letting on a blink. I could escape with the slave poets, I could fly above it all with the ancient makeres. I could be afraid of Grendel instead of the reality in front of me. All this internal language, all this inner wealth. I could philosophise with Hopkins and Stevie Smith. Ezra Pound and Walt Whitman could get me to wake up and see through the moment to the living beyond.
How impossible it is for me to believe that I silenced myself for so long. That the fight had been frightened out of me. I put nothing on paper. I said nothing. Out of fear I trapped all those words.
And now they’re spilling out.
All these messages in a bottle that I keep missing until someone else points it out. I can’t quite track how I leapt from realising I was trying to make my writing do something other than just be writing: may be it was the 3d pen experiments? May be it was what happened in the resin? May be it was all those years ago when as a teenage I wanted my writing to do much much more than just transcribe?
I looked back at Henri Michaux. I feel a real understanding of where he was in his head and what he was trying to do by exploring the trance states and trying to transcribe his experience. The research I did yesterday, hinted at in my last post has been a true epiphany. Here were other artists trying to making writing do something else. Make writing not writing. Then I discovered the term asemic and all these pieces of life that I’d thrown up in the air at various points in the living started falling to the ground and showing me what I was looking at but had never seen: the semantics, the handwriting, the poetry, the philosophy, the feeling of things that shouldn’t be felt, the seeing of things that should be heard, the hearing of things that should be seen…the impact of music on my internal space, the aim to see myself as the vessel in this project and what my inner surface might look like. It is all part of one picture. All pages of the map that I have been missing.
I cannot talk of all that has made me into who I am today. I am wiser, stronger, more tender, more aware of my inner resources. Communication was stolen from me and yet I survived. No-one heard me when I did speak up. My words meant nothing. My words became simultaneously my life-preserver and my greatest enemy.
Asemic writing has now got me in its grip. Yet Michaux, I thank you for your lifeline, sent out at the hands of Joachim Koester. It was timely. Now I pick up the baton and I’m running, it’s hard to keep up with myself.
What if writing could carry more meaning than the words themselves. What if it became for me both noun and verb? What if writing were a map of my inner meaning and inner surface dictated through gesture? What if this writing spoke with its own voice and that voice could be heard differently and directly by each person? What of this suprasemic writing? Where next?